A Westminster police officer will likely be assigned to the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force "within the next week or two," after the city's formal agreement to cooperate with the joint agency.
The agreement commits Westminster to assigning an officer full time to the task force, which also includes members of Maryland State Police, Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the county state's attorney's office.
"It's a win-win situation for all - city, community, law enforcement and government," said Westminster Police Chief Roger Joneckis. Joining the task force will improve "communication, effectiveness and efficiency," he said.
Additionally, the agreement elevates Westminster's police chief to the task force advisory board, which includes Carroll Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning, State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes and Col. David B. Mitchell, superintendent of Maryland State Police, or his stand-in.
The advisory board votes on how money or property seized during drug raids is used within Carroll County to continue fighting illegal drug activity.
The task force works covertly and frequently buys and sells drugs while collecting information on dealers. Search and seizure warrants are obtained and raids are conducted, often leading to arrests and prosecution.
Westminster was a member of the former county force that operated from 1985 to 1995. Its decision to leave the task force over the distribution of forfeited money and spats over personnel hastened the group's collapse in 1995. The task force was reinstated last year.
Joneckis declined to elaborate on his criteria for assigning an officer to the task force. No matter who is chosen, Joneckis said, he would not disband his agency's three-officer drug unit.
If Westminster's officers get information that would take a lengthy investigation, that information could be handed over to the task force, he said.
"Cooperation with the task force is not new, Joneckis noted. "I have always been able to call the state police, the sheriff or the state's attorney with any request for assistance, and it has been there."